I will be the first to tell you that the more you practice, the better you get. This applies to music and it doubly applies to writing. I started out writing poetry.
I think the first poem I wrote officially was when I was nine years old and in the style of Robert Frost. I can’t compare the poetry I write now with the poetry I wrote then. It has been not quite fifty years and a lot more experiences behind me.
So last year I decided to go through the fantasy novels that I had published in 2010-11. The story structure was decent, but the descriptions and characters were thin. I know I wouldn’t have been able to critic my own work eight years. So I decided to revise and update my first novel, “Shira: Hero of Corsindor.”
And without further ado, here is a snippet:
She glanced nervously at the lead-glass windows as the rain hit them in staccato bursts. The rain struck with such force that it drowned out the clanking of armed guards, roaming the hallways. The grayness and cold crept into her heart and chilled her bones.
In the midst of this war of elements, a newborn baby wrapped in white swaddling lay in a cradle. She gently rocked the cradle, whispering to the baby.
“You, poor sweet thing,” she said. His mother had not survived the birth. It was a miracle that this one was breathing. “She said she was in danger.” The nurse hummed and rocked. The baby smiled. It broke her heart. This child wouldn’t be allowed to live. He was born of the wrong woman.
Everyone knew that the woman who had married the king was not the king’s first love. This marriage had been arranged. The king had kept his mistress in the castle so that he could visit her during her pregnancy. It had been an embarrassment to the new queen. The kitchen gossip ran through the nurse’s mind.
The cook had sworn that she had seen the queen in the kitchen in the early hours, brewing up a potion. Then the mistress went into labor. The cook had connected the potion with the death of the mistress. The baby was supposed to die as well.
It was the baby’s smile that had changed her mind. Instead of announcing the baby’s birth, she wrapped the baby tightly in the new blanket. Hoping that the baby would stay quiet and wouldn’t suffocate, she tucked the blanket into a basket.
A silent prayer was on her lips as she walked firmly and confidently down the hall with the basket pressing against her arm. She nodded to a guard and walked past him. She reached the kitchen without being stopped. The warmth of the kitchen was a huge contrast to the coldness of the rest of the castle.
She set the basket down and warmed her hands on the flame.
“Has the baby been born yet?” asked the cook. She was bustling around the kitchen, beating dough with her hands. Two of the cook’s thralls were carting pots out to the courtyard so they could scrub them and clean the pots for the next meal.
“No,” the nurse said. “I’m going to the apothecary to get more herbs to ease her pain.”
The cook just nodded and went back to her work.
A tradesman knocked on the door. A kitchen maid opened the door and accepted the dinner meat. The nurse slipped past them and into the courtyard. A side gate that lead to a narrow path down the hill into the city was open.
It was slippery, but the nurse kept her footing. The rain had turned into a soft mist and she slid into the shadows. She looked back at the castle. It looked menacing in this light.
She shivered just a little and adjusted the basket. Her shoulder ached from carrying the baby.
She thanked every god in the pantheon that the baby hadn’t cried or screamed. She pulled back the blanket so that she could see his face. He was breathing. She let out a sigh of relief and hurried to a cobblestone road with two story buildings dwarfing her.
She slipped into a small alleyway that led to the market square. Then she hurried through the square. It was unusually quiet. The hard rain must have sent the merchants home early. It only made her shiver more and she thought that someone was following her.
Finally after going through a few more alleys, she found the one she was looking for. The shopkeeper sold beads and brocade from far away. Plus she knew him. He was her cousin’s husband.
“Welcome,” he said when she sat the basket on the counter.
He took a long look at the baby. The baby had soft dark hair and light skin. The baby’s eyes opened and they were a dark blue.
“Well,” said the shopkeeper. “It’s come to this.”
The nurse nodded her head.
He pointed to the curtain at the back of the shop. She followed behind him into the darkness.
An hour later the nurse left the shop with herbs in her basket. She headed toward the castle.